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No, I haven't been to the physical therapist yet, I'm waiting for my Covered California insurance to kick in. But I decided to do a little research on statin-induced myopathy and I have found a trove of scientific articles written for physical therapists in a journal called Physical Therapy (PTJ). These articles are available in full online. No pay wall, no membership requirement. You only need to know what to search for. This is so different from other things I have tried to search for in the past. Also,at least to a cursory glance, there seem to be more women authors in this journal. More than half, even.

I have no special news to report except that statin damage does seem to be reversible so that the pain and weakness I still have is either not from that (and some of it is definitely from osteoarthritis) or will recede as I exercise more and lose some more weight. I have learned a lot more about the chemistry and genetics of the situation, but it's not stuff I can articulate, since the articles I have been reading are at the edge of what I can follow.

Here is one of the articles I read.

And here is an older one.

On another, tangentially-related front, it appears my old dog needs anti-inflammatories as a regular thing now too. She started them for an apparent muscle injury in her shoulder -- not on the side with the deformed leg -- and after she seemed to have been better for a long time I took her off them. Two days later she developed a limp again and starfted acting sad and tentative too. So I put her back on: a day later and she was racing around, playing with toys, and trying to instigate rough play at the dog park. So I'll be talking to the vet as soon as I can and getting that set up as a permanent regime. She'll be twelve in two days, which is getting up there for a 55-pound dog. I think biologically we are about the same age, really.

Further tangent: earlier this week, my father would have been eighty-five. I went to search a picture for you, and google autocorrected my search for Luis Kemnitzer to Luis Camnitzer. It is amusing that there should be another old guy out there with such a similar name, but google should not have autocorrected my search when the name I am searching is my very own last name. Don't tell me google doesn't know who's searching. I wouldn't mind the "did you mean . . ." suggestion, but autocorrect is the opposite of useful. I did send them feedback. So should ytou, everytime google autocorrects. It's the only possible way to get them to stop it.

Well, here's my father and my stepmother a long time ago, when they posed for the "hotties of harm reduction" calendar. It's in Jim Haber's photostream, and he has all rights reserved, which I believe is a bit odd considering everything.

bean stew

Jan. 9th, 2013 11:55 am
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So often when I have an idea for a perfect bean stew the result is less magnificent than I imagined and I am stuck with a large pot of only-okay food to eat up before I can make something else. Today I am eating a very nice pot of adzuki bean stew and I can only say I am quite relieved (also the pot isn't so big that the flavors will go flat before I finish it).

So in the interests of remembering hjow I did it and what went into it I am recording this for later on.

first, contrary to usual instructions, I soaked the adzuki beans overnight. I started with a cup and a half or so: half the jar, which was a 24-oz jar. I didn't buy them in a jar, I put some in a bag from the bulk bin, but I got the amount that sort of fills that jar. Lately I even soak lentils. My reasoning is that I am also draining them and hopefully removing some of the stuff that makes bloating happen. I'm not always afflicted when I eat legumes, and I'm trying to turn that into "almost never" because I love legumes and they're cheap protein, high fiber, high iron, and low-glycemic starch, what more can you ask of food than yumminess and appropriate nutrion and afforability? I think that covers everything. Adzukis aren't the cheapest beans, but they aren't the most expensive either, and the most expensive beans are still half the price of the least expensive meat, so there you go. Did I mention I love the taste and texture of most beans?

So then I cooked the beans in new water while I cut up a pile of vegetables. These were a special combination that I wouldn't put with just any bean: only ones with a red color or a flavor like red beans. I'd do something else with whiter beans or black beans or garbanzos (which are the pinnacle of beans to me, ordinarily)

The vegetables I used were the least-warty fifth of a medium-large kabocha squash with the peel left on (that's why the least-warty part): three inches of a thick carrot: half a large turnip: a medium yellow beet: a half a large onion (about the quantity of a medium onion): only one large clove of garlic (because this was shaping up to be a kind of sweet stew: normally I use four or more because I hunger for garlic): and a bunch of dinosaur kale. I did not have any chile: I would have liked to put in a red mildly piquant one, like some frying peppers. No tomato in this one. Also no mediterranean herbs. I did put in a bit of soy sauce, probably not enough to make a difference, and a spit of salt and a splash of Tapatio (chile). If you need more sweet to notice that it is sweet, you could add honey or sugar or something, but I didn't need it. No broth, just water. I don't usually use broth anymore unless I have recently made some kind of meat with bones, and even then not likely because I mostly make stews when I have meat.

So then I put the veggies in all at once and I didn't sautee them, I just added them to the cooked adzuki beans and I cooked them altogether for a bit over forty-five minutes, to when the veggies seemed tender, then I let it cool, and put it in a bowl in the refrigerator. First ate it for breakfast today, which is the next day.

It is not the sort of food that makes you cry with pleasure. It is very pleasant and nourishing-feeling, and it makes me happy. Also the pumpkin bits are really, really nice. Did I ever tell you how much I adore kabocha squash? I only tolerate other kinds of squash. A nice sugar pie pumpkin is pretty good, and butternut squash is adequate, acorn squash is usually edible, but the others only exist to fill in the gaps when there's no kabocha squash to be had.

On another front, I have inherited my father's CD collection. My brother got the tapes. I think he chose the tapes because he thought there were fewer of them. He was wrong.
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Look at what Pervez Musharraf's been doing in Pakistan:

Getting the rape laws out of the hands of the mullahs.

There's a long ways to go yet, but this law says that rape is now a regular crime, which can be prosecuted on the basis of regular forensic evidence and no longer needs four adult Muslim men to attest to it, and which can no longer get a woman arrested for adultery. Yes, formerly, if a woman was raped and did not have four adult Muslim men to witness to it, she would be charged with adultery, which is still a crime in Pakistan which can result in a five year prison sentence or a fine. Also, the age of consent has been moved from "puberty" to sixteen for girls (I don't know about boys).

Some people I admire greatly see age of consent laws as being generally about controlling and oppressing youth, but I disagree: they are two-sided things, and are sometimes about keeping young people from being used by the adults in their lives, when there are insufficient other inhibitions. In a society where adult men have so much power over women, it's a good thing to say "Yeah, but you may not have sex with them or force them to marry when they are twelve years old." Not much of a thing, but a good one.

Back to Musharraf and Pakistan. So, to begin with, he's a dictator, and that's no good. And he's willing to have a war by proxy with India which allows thousands of Kashmiris, and other folks too, to be killed in bombings and riots. And he's willing to tolerate a whole soup of reactionary schools and camps on his border, so long as their activities are primarily focussed on Afghanistan. And he does what dictators do to stay in power. And he cut a deal with the US to not get bombed to rubble, which involved helping bomb Afghanistan to rubble. And so on.

But here he is, triumphant that he's pushed the emancipation of Pakistani women that one bit farther.

On another front, I'm going to yet another memorial for my father tonight. The good thing is that he's sharing it with another anthropologist who died this year and it's at the American Anthropological Association meeting tonight. On the other hand, it's organized by our friend Tressa, who is overly dramatic and I fear long-windedness and I expect to cry a lot. The day before yesterday was his birthday.

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This is one reason to have children, or to have friends who have children if you don't. You don't have to learn every little damn bit of new tech to get the benefit of it.

As it happens, I do intend to get on to this eventually, because the potential is too much to depend on the kids. Anyway, Frank got me "I'm going to live the life I sing about" by Mahalia Jackson (I actually think the version I had as a kid was someone else: I think this version is better than I remember it, and isn't that nice for a change?)

Anyway, this is my new soundtrack. Over and over. And who's the genius on the piano? That's not my question, though Kip probably knows. I can find that out. If Red Hot Jazz doesn't have it, some other fanatic will have uploaded a complete Mahalia Jackson discography with all the personnel for every cut.

Edit: the piano player's name is Mildred Falls, who apparently was dedicated to playing with Mahalia Jackson. I did find one instance of a young jazz pianist who studied her work. It's amazing stuff: Falls is so subtle and yet so driving. She opens the piece with a little high-pitched flourish that sets up an expectation of excitrement, then slides down below Mahalia Jackson's voice and just walks it most of the way, almost at a heartbeat rhythm but with just enough crescend-decrescendo and variations in rhythm to make you dissatisfied with just listening, make you want to get the hell out there and change the world right now and where's my father when I need him?

(Repetition number five of the morning just ended. I have winamp on repeat and nothing else in the playlist and my brain is on fire)

I was thinking of uploading it as a voice post but I couldn't make sense of the voice post instructions as they might apply to pre-recorded material. I mean, what if I wanted to do something more elaborate myself than just talking into the phone? That's my question. How do you upload pre-recorded material? It might not be kosher for the Mahalia Jackson piece as it's probably just about fifty years old and therefore maybe still under copyright (I think I'm going to find out in a moment), but what if I wanted to do something clever and pre-recorded with sound effects and a passage read by maybe myself and maybe other people?

On another front: Moher's driving again. She still can't use her right hand for crap, so there's some scary aspects to how she shifts gears (it's an automatic but you know you have to shift anyway). She made me and my brother watch the video of us stumbling through "True and Trembling Brakeman" at my father's memorial.

I have a weird stupid pretentious-sounding accent when I'm recorded. Something stupid about what happens to the short a is what makes it annoying. No wonder people sometimes think I'm supercilious. Honest, I don't mean to sound like that.
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I cannot send these links to my father, who would react like I did -- I was screaming in laughter. But the weird thing? These menus are completely serious. I searched all around the site and it's true. This guy has not a shred of humor about what he's doing here. Any further comment on this would be overkill. Except that it comes from the Particles sidenar at Making Light.

On a related front, you know that John Brown story I've been working on? It's really difficult but I swear I will get it done by the deadline. I have a week. Anyway, while we were trundling around the Bay Area Tuesday to celebrate Frank and Emma's birthday, we were talking about it and it suddenly hit me just what I was writing:

--- an old man, with a long beard and strong principles about freedom, justice and equality, lies dying, while his young friends gather round him to care for him, to talk philosophy and politics with him, and go off at intervals to make revolution

For the sake of the anthology I've been trying to make him Osama bin Laden but in my heart John Brown is my father.

Which is only one reason it's hard to write.

The "update journal" box is doing something very strange right now. Every new word appears on the line below the sentence it belongs to and jumps up to the proper line after I hit the space bar and type the first letter of the next word. It's really disconcerting. Especially at the end of paragraphs, where it doesn't jumnp into place until after I hit the return key. And if I backspace the word jumps back down to its own line. This has never happened to me before. I can only hope it doesn't affect the final appearance of the post.

Not timely

Feb. 24th, 2006 04:01 pm
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So, Teresa Nielsen Hayden points out in her particles that the UC press is having a big sale. This is so wrong: this should have happened three months ago so my dad could have had fun with it (he was always a dangerous man in a bookstore).

But the thing that's been on my mind off and on today is Ken Livingston. The BBC World Service actually ran a tape of the conversation he's in trouble for, and you know what? It's outrageous to suspend a mayor for a month on the basis of the conversation. No, I wouldn't compare paparazzi to concentration camp guards, but the conversation is as he said it was, a complaint about reporters harrassing him and then saying "it's just my job." There's not a shred of anti-Semitism in it.

Politicians say really awful things all the time. If you can't lose your job for suggesting that the crime problem would be minimal if all the black mothers were forced to have abortions, you surely shouldn't be able to lose your job for saying that a reporter is like a war criminal. (different countries, but still -- lately I think the US has a worse record overall on free speech issues than the UK)

The thing is, I think the Ken Livingston thing is being used, consciously or not, to subvert the original intent of hate-speech rules. Hate speech is about espousing, inspiring, inciting, instigating, and organizing violence against targeted populations. Nowhere in Ken Livingston's conversation did he suggest that violence against reporters was in the least bit appropriate. He did suggest that the newspapers' behavior towards him was violent in some way (I'm not able to judge how accurate his complaints about the news media are, but the fact that the reporter pursued this case in this fashion sort of indicates a partisanship that I would think a newspaper would not like to be caught with). But the rather stiffer than necessary legislation that's been adopted for hate speech (I do listen to BBC World Service, so I have had at various times gotten fairly thorough descriptions of the law, though I couldn't repeat it here without looking it up, which I may do if I remember after this nightmare weekend is over) -- is being used, I think, to go after people who rock the boat, not people who threaten violence against minorities. And I think we'll see more of it, in the US and the UK. Just a few more boiling chips in the frog soup.
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Here's what the Chronicle printed. There are errors, of course: he did not grow up as one of five, but as one of two, and actually spent the latter half of his adolescence on his own, as his mother had died and his father was off in England preparing to have the second clutch. Paul's in the second clutch, not the first clutch, as long as we're going for factual accuracy. And "soon disillusioned" does not describe my father's relationship with the Party, which lasted about ten years, and ended amicably. Yes, he was disillusioned, but not in the way people usually mean that word: he was inspired by his experiences with the Party to seek more communist ways of doing and being: and that is what anarchism was to him. "Primitive communism," more or less. He kept his Marxism and went forward, not back, from it (I say this as disagreed with him on various topics). Usually "soon disillusioned" is used to describe a person who pulls back from the Left and becomes a Derchowitz or something.

And Rosemary is in there, though she's not where she belongs.

And the son-in-law? That's the nice fellow. I imagine some people are going to wish that the quotes included certain other people, but that's the way it goes.
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So I sent in a version of my father's life to the Chronicle editorial obituaries department. The reporter who called me to verify was completely flummoxed. "Who are the full siblings? What's a hanai daughter? Who is this Rosemary and why is she among the wives?"

She said "we don't use dialect" when I explained what hanai means (it's a Hawaiian term for a kind of adoption, much more inclusive than "adopted" or "step," though I think maybe my dad officially adopted Ch'asca, and I totally missed the opportunity to change hanai into adopted: I think it's going in as step). She questioned the number of grandchildren, which I had never counted, but it's six, actually, which seems funny to me, but there it is. There they are. So then she refused to list Rosemary among the survivors because she didn't have a sexual relationship with my father.

I said "I can hardly believe I'm talking to a San Francisco newspaper." The hospital didn't have any problem with my family: why should the newspaper?

("It's a news article, not an advertisement," she said, and I said, "You're writing about a real man and his real family. But I'm not arguing with you, just trying to explain.")

I told her we make no distinctions about blood or marriage or association in my family, that we are constituted as I said we were. But no.

On other fronts, I went to get my science fiction teeth today but some roots were fused to the upper jaw bone so I have to go to an oral surgeon to have them removed properly, which makes the whole procedure that much more expensive.

I wish I could make things all better for my kids: a thick letter of acceptance for the one, and freedom from pain for the other.

But the plum blossoms are blooming and if I would get myself outside to go stand under them and cry for beauty's sake I would be much better.
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Just around midnight, my father completed his dying. He was surrounded by women who were dear to him: Brandi Apana, Moher Downing, Rosemary Prem, Janie Kesselman and myself -- and his grandson Frank Trollman who had, with Rosemary, been the backbone of his care since the beginning of the year.

We're working on the obituary now. It gets longer with every pass. I've stepped out to have Moher and Janie work on the part about his life with Moher.

Every story brings another story. I have to expand on: Sleeping Jesus, Taniga (tripe), and the ROTC.

If you happen to be one of Luis' friends and find this, here are the upcoming details:

Tomorrow, Saturday, Feb 18, 3:00 p.m.: wake at Moher's house, 97 Miguel, San Francisco.

Sunday, February 26, 2:00 p.m, memorial: Martin de Porres, 225 Potrero, San Francisco.

If you want to donate in his name, Martin's is the way to go.
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He's definitely dying. The hospital is full of people come to say goodbye. They've suspended the two visitors rule.

The doctor on his case says it's been an honor to work with him. We said we were sorry he hadn't got to really meet him, and he said he feels he gets to know patients in cases like this through their families.

Death mask biography coming.
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I'm in the City. My father is in ICU with septic shock from pneumonia. The emergency room doctor recommended that if we wanted to be sure to "say whatever we wanted to say to him" we should come on up last night. He seemed to be stabilizing, maybe, when we left the hospital last night, but they're giving him two units this morning.

My brother is relentlessly optimistic. I'm dubious.

I want him to be right.
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Yup. Two chapters in less than a week. I want to be finished damned soon. And I will be: there's one chapter to go, though I may split off the last little bit and call it a chapter so as to have an even two dozen chapters. And the last little bit needs some reconstructing for various reasons so it may take a little longer.

On other fronts: it seems that my father's situation is common for the stage of radiation therapy he's in, and my son, who seems him much more than I do, says that he makes sense when you can hear what he says. But he's lucky to get 500 calories down him in a day (he had a little extra when he started having trouble, but that was some months ago).

And Gloria is making a little more sense again, too.

But I'm still exhausted, and this weekend is humongous -- Saturday: Monterey water treatment plant in the morning, Chinese New Year Parade at night: Sunday: oh please catch up with laundry and dishes, and I forget what all else. And the apple tree has not been pruned yet, nor the almond trees, and the apple tree always sorely needs it because we've never gotten a handle on the watersprouts.

And I have a review to wqrite and where did I put the damned book?

My father

Feb. 8th, 2006 10:19 am
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It did not look good last night. He was somnolent, a little confused (he seemed much more confused than he was because he was so somnolent and weak), and could only eat three bites of soup.

He's had a week and a half of radiation.

Is this what we're supposed to expect?

Where can I read about this?
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And two more chapters before that's finished. I don't expect to do any real writing today: I got back from the City at about one in the morning, and I have errands to run on behalf of the kids. I realized recently that if Frank is to be a caregiver 16 hours a day four days a week, and he is also to get into medical school and have his other needs taken care of, I must do things for him: it's not hoverymother or smotherymother for me to do this. It's part of my contribution to the whole system of our family. He just can't go to University offices and places like that -- he's somewhere else when they're open. Currently, the only thing standing between him and an interview at Wash U is a "dean's certificate" which is a checkoff the college is supposed to do that asserts he's done nothing bad. Only UCSC doesn't have dean's certificates, so his residency college (UCSC has ten colleges which are subunits of the campus and terribly confusing to explain to people: Frank went to Crown (Zellerbach), the nice fellow and I were at Stevenson (Adlai)and Emma is at Porter (Five, to us old folks). Crown is a science nerd college and Porter is an art wank college. Stevenson is -- liberal guilt college, I guess)

Moher wants to give my father's old Ford Escort to Frank. When my father got it clear what she was talking about he said "God help him." I don't think the car is that bad. But it's also possibly not a good idea for him to own a car when he has no income. We'll work this out over time.

Oh, the thing about Wash U -- that's the medical school my friend Sharon went to about the same time that Frank was born. It's in St. Louis. One of my father's compilations is juat a whole raft of renditions of "St. Louis Blues:" I hate to see that evening sun go down.

Moher is much better. She's taking charge of things now, and helping to direct my father's care. I'm not sure about my father, because I've only seen him at bedtime the last couple weeks.

On another front, if you ever have a chance to go to the San Jose Museum of Art, it's free, and while it is small, it is very well curated. It's wisely oriented towards modern art, and in both the exhibits I saw (a ceramics one and a political art one) the information cards on the wall frequently showed the older art work that "informs" the newer, which helps a lot in understanding the artist's intentions, like having read the Odyssey helps in understanding James Joyce or the Coen Brothers.
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So Gloria has shown signifigant deterioration in the last couple of weeks. We're sure that she's having those little strokes all the time -- she has these headaches, she becomes less coherent, she feels bad, she lies down. Yesterday she was frantic all morning to get things done -- mopping the floor, which has been the job of the weekly housecleaner forever, and various other strange little tasks. And we were talking past each other all day.

I went googling for advice, and nobody has any, apparently, for what to do during these little stroke things (if that's what they are). They talk about aspirin or warfarin for prevention, but nothing for during and after. I decided I have to become more proactive again about talking with her and doing things with her -- I've been sort of passive this last month, I think because I'm just generally tired from driving to San Francisco and back twice a week. (which also means I've been eating badly: I always overeat when I'm tired: and I've regained, I think, the four or five pounds I'd lost. And my new blood pressure medicine that doesn't make me cough also doesn't keep my blood pressure down, which will be addressed in a couple of weeks)

On the other hand, things are better in San Francisco. My father has had his first week of radiation therapy, and while he's not bouncy, he's not exactly wasted. Frank has been making him tiny meals many times a day and he's eating better. Moher is walking without a cane and taking charge again (she's the take-charge kind of person. She had started to insist on being in the know a week or more ago, and that was definitely a milestone).

Okay. personheadhttp://hrj.livejournal.com/ tagged me for one of these silly list things that I've come to the point of maybe resisting. It's the only time I've ever been tagged for anything, so it would be discourteous for me to refuse, or to refuse to tag somebody. But before I do that, can I register my disappointment that a word I hate has been adopted by the world online?

Goodness knows I'm not opposed to neologisms. I'm no kind of purist about neologisms, either -- when I see a painful hybrid of Greek and Latin and Germanic roots I think it's funny, not sacreligious. But sometimes a word comes along and a person just can't abide it for their own reasons. I hate hate hate the word "meme" for two reasons: 1)it originates in a stupid fashionable misunderstanding of the way genetics and evolution work and 2)it has unpleasant connections for me because it first spread in usenet by people I don't like. Lots of people I do like participated in this spreading too, so if you can recall being one of the first people to spread this word and the unfortunate stupid idea that clings to it like a mind-numbing stumbling block to comprehension, don't worry -- if you're reading this and you're one of those first people, you're probably not one of the people I don't like, though you probably know who I'm talking about. (probably better than I do because I have not had anything to do with them for a while)

Okay, the silly list thing goes like this: you list five guilty pleasures and then tag five people.

My silly list of five guilty pleasures:
1. fried fish sandwiches in a fast food restaurant
2. salty Japanese snacks
3. dumber and dumber and dumber romantic comedies with fakey cryey spots ("In her Shoes," "Just Like Heaven")
4. mint chocolate ice cream
5. amateur online gay coming of age erotic romance serials. Which I feel less guilt about as the genre develops and I realize I'm watching a new form of literature evolve, and I'm also watching a very interesting phenomenon develop in the interactive community of readers and writers involved with them, and I think I may be able to produce a stuffy analysis of it all, if I can remember how academic writing is supposed to go.

Okay, I'll tag, um, [livejournal.com profile] del_c,[livejournal.com profile] mayakda,[livejournal.com profile] orangemike,[livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses, and [livejournal.com profile] aynathie.

On another front, I have finally finished transcribing Chapter 21 of The Donor and will upload it sometime after I tour the water treatment plant and look at orchids with the nice fellow. And I wrote six hundred new words in that story about boys who don't: I think I know what it is now: I think it has four sections and they're really quite grown by the third one. Maybe five, depending on how I work out this one thread of the story.

Oh yes: the manzanita in front of Gloria's is in full bloom, and so are my two almond trees, and the apricot tree is in advanced popcorn stage, and the plum tree is in early popcorn stage, and the Belle of Portugal (rosa giganta) is blooming. And the mustard and oxalis are blooming all through the apple orchards on Calabasas Road. No arguing about it: it's springtime.
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So Thursday I took Emma to various appointments -- one of them the steroid shot that's supposed to maybe make her stop hurting -- and went to the City to pick up Frank. I've decided that I'd rather drive to the City on Sunday and Thursday to take him and pick him up than to have him take the train (and bus). This is not because he's so tender he can't take the public transportation but because I selfishly want to see my father and stepmother twice a week. Thursday was a shock. My father couldn't eat or speak and could hardly move. Rosemary and Frank got him to the table, but to get a bit of stew down him I spoonfed him. Moher was devastated to see him like that and she not able to do much herself (Ishe's recovering very well from the satroke, though).

Today I took Frank back up to the City, but I went the long way round, so that Frank could go play some role playing game or another with his friend Keith at Games of Berkeley, and then the nice fellow and I ate noodles and shopped at Ikea, and most importantly, stopped over to play with my grandniece Julianna. So it was evening when we arrived in the City and I was worried, of course, but:

Luis was not sitting up or walking around, but he was comfy, lounging on the couch, with color in his face and very pleased with his state. He was talking, sounding like my father. He'd gone to the emergency room the day before where they had prescribed Gatorade and jello (dang, why didn't I think of that?) and pointed out that no, he wasn't supposed to be getting two opiates after all, the one was supposed to replace the other. My brother, always the gourmet cook, had made my father a Bavarian (which is sort of a jello custard thing). And Luis had eaten some actual food as well.

While we were shopping around town, I got my father a random Gypsy music CD -- just something I knew he wouldn't have -- and Ted got a Hawaiian steel record, and I got myself a copy of Sean Stewart's Perfect Circle which I've been searching for since before it was published as I heard him read a bit of it at the San Jose World Con and it had been a revelation, pure and simple. And we got Julianna a weird little stuffed animal, dog knows what it's supposed to be (the sign said "Kanin/rabbit" but that doesn't make sense. It's clearly neither a dog nor a rabbit). Julianna's parents, Lisa(Alyesia) and Jon, had made a nest of the stuffed snake we brought a few months ago -- "safety snake" -- so she can practice sitting up and have something soft to fall on, a strategy we had told them about using with Frank and Emma.

We've been drying a few mushrooms almost every day, so that now we have a nice little stash of chanterelles and another one of wine-colored agarics and another of craterellus. And the nice fellow keeps adding to his store of candy caps. He wants to make candy cap cookies or ice cream. I think when you go with the sweetness of the candy caps like that they become cloying. I've wanted to put them into tomato sauce, but Zak is right: he says they should be used to make squash ravioli (or, add I, squash soup).

(note to Emma: yes, I got your recommendation letter from Beth, in which she does invoke the name of the Longshoreman's Union, which means that yes, you have to write the essay, but of course I will help you. I had to be suitably impressed by Maya's 4th grade history project which is a complicated diorama showing the founderr of the first waitresses' union in San Francisco in her Labor Day parade float). And it's official: we'll be taking up a collection to send Rosemary to Calistoga for a mud bath.

I'm almost ready to write again.
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As I write this, I am forced to listen to the Monterey television news. Would you like to know an absolutely sure sign you're hearing news from a small town? When at the top of the hour the announcer says "And our top story today, the sanctions that will affect every athlete at Salinas High School."

And when they assume that every viewer knows what the CCS is (the Central Coast sports leagues, who manage all the meets and games and playoffs and things for I think most of the middle school and high school team sports), and cares. The story is this: the Salinas football team was very badly behaved for a very long time, including fights and rac.vial epithets at games, and last straw: they appeared, in uniform, at the Salinas High School football field, in a commercial for a mortgage company. So, while the Salinas High School teams are allowed to compete against the other teams in the region, they are not allowed into the playoffs this year, and the football team is not allowed in the playoffs next year.

The newsworthy aspect of all this is that this is the top news story of the local television station. At least I think so. We have strikes and near-strikes, wrangling over land use policy, water use and conservation, logging, gang fights, a scandal of epic proportions at the University of California, and the top story is the sanctions handed out to Salinas High School.
They've repeated all the details of the story five times now, and they're promising more at eleven.

The scandal of epic proportions. I've mentioned this before, right? The last chancellor but one was paid a huge signing bonus, given an amazing moiving allowance and specially-invented highly lucrative jobs for her girlfriend and her girlfriend's son (or was it nephew?), and mortgage payments on an extra house (I believe the one she had lived in before she moved into the University House, which is, as every student knows from the Chancellor's Tea thing they have for new students, amazingly luxurious and beautiful and includes a panoramic view of the Bay) So as the story unfolds it turns out there has been this pattern of overcompensating the top administrators, not just at UCSC but throughout the UC system, while financial aid gets inexorably cut more and more each year, outreach and development programs are cut, fees are raised, and teaching and support staff are cut back. It's of a piece, right, with the overcompensation of upper management in all industries, and the grinding of the workers. Oh, the Regents have called for an investigation, as if they weren't at the core and root of it all in the first place.

More about the University. One of the oddities of the state is that the University is a law to itself, and doesn't have to meet local zoning, planning, land use, building, water or fire protection regulations. This naturally creates some tension as the campus has been growing steadily in the firty years it has been open, and there are inevitable impacts on the community. Lately the University has been a little less cavalier about these things and is attempting to work with the locals, but so far there's not been much confidence generated. The newsy part? The Mayor of Santa Cruz, who is a prominent professor, has called the University's report on its growth plans "a sham." The City is demanding a new environmental impact report, among other things.

One little sensational event was a stabbing on Pacific Avenue -- the main drag, more or less, of town, that is a restaurant and bookstore and nightclub heaven, not the seat of government or bread-and-butter business (though there's some of that, tucked away in upstairs offices). The sensational thing was a van cruised down the street and a bunch of guys with uniformly buzzed skulls leaped out of the van, grabbed a man emerging from the big movie theater, and began beating and stabbing him -- he was apparently not dangerously hurt before they left again. The Downtown Association would like you to know that they still consider the street to be generally safe (I do too, but I thought it was funny that they felt they had to say so).

Other sports news: it's Mavericks season, when the big waves happen and a bunch of top surfers walk around with pagers to let them know when the big waves are right for the surfing contest to happen during which they will be lifted by helicopter out to the beginning of the waves and they ride these huge things (one of four or five biggest surfable waves in the world). But that's all I know this year: there was the obligatory picture of Flea Virostko and some other guy, and the obligatory nod to Mark Foo, who died there a dozen years ago. And our boxing contender, Carina Moreno, is on the front pages too.

Oh, and the county got declared a state of emergency again because of the storms last week. You have to realize that while the county gets that declaration often, it's mostly due to the political and economic savvy of our politicians: what "state of emergency" means is "heavy economic impact from weather or geological events or fire, which is officially recognized and due to which locals can make insurance claims and get government grants." The latest estimate on the storm damage is 2.4 million dollars.

Mushroom hunters found the skeleton of a man. Not us. The man seemed to have wandered off from a group home for the mentally ill and I suppose he died of exposure. The sherriff's deputy who spoke to the paper said "Mushroom hunters find a lot of things for us."

Okay, that's it. There's more stuff about the housing crisis, wild pigs, and the usual Pentecostal minister found guilty of child molestation, but I'm done. There's always more.

. . .

On the personal front: my father does not have sciatica. He has metastisized lung cancer which has invaded his adrenal glands and spine. He's going back on opiates for the pain, and they're designing a radiation and chemotherapy program for him. On a happier note, they've given him an oxygen machine and he's feeling rather spry and perky. My son is spending four days a week in the City, helping my stepmother with her post-stroke physical and speech therapy.
I'm not getting much writing done.


Jan. 14th, 2006 11:16 am
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Looking for songs which can be related to a gratitude theme.

Genre or provenance don't matter.
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They only work if you read them as well as write in them.

You should preferably read them before you go to bed at night so you don't wake up at nine thirty (having driven to San Francisco and back the night before, again, this time to deposit son for his stint of grandma-spotting*, and then staying up later than that because the coffee you drank to be alert on the drive home worked way too well) and realize your annual mammorgram was supposed to have happened at nine o'clock. Even if the pocket calendar in question is this really nice, beautiful thing supposedly modelled on the one that Van Gogh and Hemmingway used ("moleskine," but it wasn't really expensive, and it was on sale)

*Moher is doing very well. She no longer needs someone inside the bathroom with her, but she needs to be spotted when she walks, and she needs help with her walking brace for daytime and her hand brace for nighttime. And she needs someone to do her physical therapy, language therapy, and occupational therapy with her. And someone needs to pay attention to my father, who is doing better but is still short of breath all the time.

Did I tell you that when I took my dad home from the hospital last week he had two goals he had to attend to immediately -- the last track for his latest compilation CD, and Moher's disability forms?

Meanwhile, Moher naturally wants to run before she can walk.
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So I'm in the City again. My father spent a couple of days in the hospital. His chest pain had gotten worse, but the thing that made the scheduling nurse at Kaiser tell him to call 911 instead of waiting around for a regular appointment with his primary physician was that he was having a harder and harder time breathing. They dosed him with oxygen,prednisone and pain relievers and did an X-Ray, a CT scan and a biopsy. He has not one but at least three masses in his lung that weren't there a year ago. The biopsy results aren't back but a friend who knows something about it says that very fast growing tumors are often benign.

Tomorrow they're sending my stepmother home from her hospital stay (she's been in post-stroke rehab). So the house has two people and an ancient dog all of whom need caring for. Luis is mostly taking care of himself but he ought to be doing less than he wants to and Moher needs to continue with intensive therapy to regain the use of her right hand, complete mobility, and full use of language. And Kaiser doesn't pay for that. So the network is devising a schedule of willing hands to be around all day and all night.

I took some amazing pictures of the view from here, at least if they come out, and when I get home I'll see about posting them. From this house you get about a 300 degree view -- only the front angle is obscured by the hillside. I can see Twin Peaks with the massive radio tower that looks like a monster come to stomp the city, large chunks of downtown, the Bay Bridge and the East Bay from there on down to the San Mateo Bridge, all that Hunter's Point shipyard stuff, and almost all the way down to San Bruno Mountain. It's a lovely city, well appointed with trees and barren hilltops and red banded chert outcroppings. It's a lovely bay. The eastern shore of the bay is beautiful too.

The house is full of dogs: only one lives here, but three others spend their days here. One is a sixteen hundred dollar fluffy little cinematic special effect puppy who goes airborne in his youthful enthusiasm. (Somebody has too much money, but it's not one of my relatives).

Anyway, it's just about spring, here. Not quite: that'll be in about three weeks, when the native violets begin to bloom (the wildly escaped viola odorifera from Europe has been blooming for weeks).

Oh, and it's not raining, and it didn't rain yesterday, and it probably won't rain tomorrow, and I'm not in my garden pruning fruit trees. I probably wouldn't be, anyway, if I were at home.

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